Review: Nick Cave-Mercy On Me by Reinhard Kleist



Cover art of Nick Cave: Mercy On Me

Berlin-based artist Reinhard Kleist’s stunning graphic novel Mercy On Me is a dizzying exploration of the life and work of the great Australian singer, musician, writer and actor Nick Cave. Endorsed by Cave himself, it’s truly inspired, and will appeal to even the most casual admirer of his work. Focusing on the inherent contradictions in Cave’s art-from the elegiac, contemplative and spiritual; to the brutal and violent- his voluptuous artwork scratches with visceral beauty.


Taking an hallucinatory tour from classroom rebellion, to the incendiary gigs of The Boys Next Door and The Birthday Party, to drug busts, novel writing and the rise and rise of The Bad Seeds, Kleist eschews conventional narrative choices- entirely apposite for such a trailblazer.



Image from The Birthday Party days by Reinhard Kleist


Cave’s characters appear in dreamlike sequences. The Mercy Seat’s prisoner sits with his last meal in Death Row, before the reader is catapulted into a fraught session in the recording studio. Red Right Hand sees the shadowy murderer stand face to face with his creator. Tupelo and Pleasure Is the Boss are spat out like bullets. King Ink turns Cave into a Kafkaesque beetle, while Where the Wild Roses Grow ‘s Elisa Day rails against her idealised beauty. Even Euchrid Eucrow, from his novel And the Ass Saw The Angel, trudges wearily through the swamps of Cave’s imagination.

Also making cameo appearances, real-life artists Anita Lane, Lydia Lunch, ex-Bad Seed Blixa Bargeld, and PJ Harvey are accurately rendered-never just mere footnotes in the creative process. There’s even a fantasy encounter between legendary bluesman Robert Johnson and Cave at the crossroads. The blues never seemed so bloody.

(Lorna Irvine)


Available now through Self Made Hero, RRP. £14.99, B&W, Paperback. Translated from German by Michael Waaler

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